When Dancing With the Stars this Tuesday pays proper tribute to the late Len Goodman, one of the competition series’ most prolific pros — Cheryl Burke — will be oddly absent.
Goodman, who judged both DWTS and BBC One’s Strictly Come Dancing for many years, died in late April after a battle with bone cancer, at age 78. In last month’s season premiere, DWTS hosts Julianne Hough and Alfonso Ribeiro paid a brief tribute to Goodman, and announced that the show’s Mirrorball Trophy was now named after the former head judge.
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But this Tuesday night, to fully celebrate Goodman, pro dancers from past seasons will return to the ballroom to join current pros, alongside judge Derek Hough and co-host Hough, for a dance tribute set to “Moon River” by Henry Mancini and choreographed by pros Val Chmerkovskiy and Jenna Johnson.
The roster of returning pro dancers will include Kym Johnson, Anna Trebunskaya, Karina Smirnoff, Edyta Sliwinska, Tony Dovolani, Louis van Amstel, Maks Chmerkovskiy and Mark Ballas.
But not Burke, who when she retired last November had easily appeared in the most seasons, 26, of any other DWTS pro. (Of the invited pros listed above, only Dovolani and Chmerkovskiy come close.) Burke also competed on DWTS as recently as last season, and was the first female pro to win (and also to win twice).
So, why will she be absent for Goodman’s tribute?
In a post shared on Threads, Burke explained, “For those of you asking if I’ll be a part of Len Goodman’s tribute next week on DWTS, unfortunately, I wasn’t invited. however, I’ll be there in spirit and can’t wait to cheer my former colleagues on! Sending love and light to everyone. 🤍🙏🏼 #riplen.”
ABC had no comment on Burke’s lack of an invitation.
Goodman, who boasted years of his own ballroom dancing experience, served as head judge on both DWTS and the Strictly since their inception. He appeared on the former series from its premiere in 2005 through 2022, when he stepped down at the end of Season 31 to spend more time with his family.
Over the years, Goodman became known for his (sometimes brutally) honest critiques of contestants’ performances, which he delivered with a keen eye for proper ballroom technique. He was a consistently tough scorer, too, though his “10” paddles were memorably introduced with the catchphrase, “From Len, a 10!”
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